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Points of Order

Volume 717: debated on Monday 4 July 2022

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. My constituent is a sponsor for a mother and daughter in Ukraine. They applied for a Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme visa on 10 April. The mother’s visa was approved on 10 June, but there is still no visa for her 16-year-old daughter, Maria. Their nearest city is currently under rocket fire and they are desperate to leave for their safety. My team has contacted the Home Office four times, twice in person, but Maria’s visa is being held up inexplicably. I seek your advice on how to resolve this matter.

I thank the hon. Member for giving notice of her point of order and I can understand her concerns as she has voiced them today. They are clearly not the responsibility of the Chair, but she has put her concerns on the record and I am sure Ministers will have heard them. I hope a speedy resolution is forthcoming. I am asking the Treasury Whip to make sure. [Interruption.] He is doing that as I am speaking. Thank you very much.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. As you know, in order to get an oral question on the Order Paper, Back-Bench Members have to submit to the ballot process. Every day, hundreds and hundreds of MPs fail—in fact, we nearly always fail. However, just occasionally we have that little moment of joy when an email comes through saying, “Your question has been successful in the ballot”. I got two such emails for this week: one for Justice questions tomorrow, on screening for brain injury in prisons, which one would have thought was the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Justice; and one on Thursday one on artists’ resale rights. One would have thought that artists were a responsibility of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Unfortunately, both Departments have decided to transfer the questions, which means that I will not get an oral answer and I will not get an opportunity to ask a supplementary question. I do not know whether that is because they are frightened of answering questions from me, or whether they just want them shunted off to some other Department. Mr Deputy Speaker, can you confirm that Ministers should not be doing that, and that, on the whole, it is best just to let it happen once Members have got through the ballot process? Secondly, can you confirm either that Ministers can overturn the decisions and reinstate the questions for tomorrow and Thursday, or that Mr Speaker could choose to catch my eye—or the other way around?

I thank the hon. Member for giving notice of his point of order. The transfer of questions, as he says, is a matter for Ministers not the Chair. I appreciate that Members may be disappointed to lose their slot—in this case, slots—at Question Time if their oral question is transferred. Where questions relate to matters for which more than one Minister is responsible, or where responsibility is ambiguous, I expect Ministers to be very cautious about transferring oral questions. The Table Office is always able to provide advice to Members on these issues and I am sure that the Treasury Bench will again have heard what the hon. Member has had to say.